Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Job Visit

Currently scoping out the new digggsss for the next few years... the Rio Grande Valley!

More updates to follow

Monday, April 25, 2011

Today was infuriating. Literally every other freaking minute they were on the announcements making some obscene note that was absolutely a necessity to that exact moment. I can not handle it anymore. Saying the announcement in an ludicrously loud tone, with a "there's a wild man with a gun" tone to every absolute announcement, and having one of these damn things every other minute.

For instance, today I had a student leave about 2 minutes into 3rd period to "get a aspirin" from the office. NINETY FIVE MINUTES LATER I decided I was pissed. Yes, last 95 minutes. That is my grace period. Last year, it was about 6 minutes. 18 months of numbing later, I am up to 95 minutes. I feel like that is pretty forgiving. Well, after THREE check-ins to the office with varying response (ie a "I'll get back to you...." no response, a secretary saying "oh, she was around here awhile ago," and "well, she's a good kid, so I wouldn't worry about it" ON THE PA SYSTEM TO MY ENTIRE CLASS), I took the walk down. Obviously I had a riot on my hands in class because they were infuriated that this girl could get away with anything, while they get written up for "opening their mouths." So, in the office I ran into ANOTHER girl who had missed class earlier, and I had turned in a truancy write up for (because I got NO NOTE). She informed me that said student was giving blood. I said, well, do I have a list of the people who are giving blood? Is there a reason why she has been gone for 100 minutes now? Do you have any idea if she'll ever be back?


Then, the announcement came. For the fifth time in ONE PERIOD we were interrupted by the PA system. This time our counselor decided to give this speech (in the middle of the class, mind you) "Hello teachers. As you know, because I put it on the bulletin the entire week last week, the blood drive is today. The AMERICAN red cross that is here. AMERICAN red cross. We are so happy to have students giving blood to the AMERICAN red cross, and hope that you will be forgiving of these students who are trying to help the AMERICAN red cross. Please understand their absences and understand that I am not able to write a note for every student back to class. Thank you, and again, remember this is for the American Red Cross."

Okay, that's a little over exaggerated. BUT a few take aways;

1. You're an asshole teacher if you're complaining right now because this is America, damnit!
2. You're still an asshole teacher if you expect you students to be in class, I mean, this is for AMERICA
3. Don't expect ANY notes or ANY accountability. In fact, no proof that they were even giving blood...just accept that kids might be skipping today
4. There are SO many students at Clarendon High School that I can not POSSIBLY be expected to write notes for them (NOTE: 15 students gave blood today)
5. When I said it was on the bulletin last week, THAT'S NOT TRUE (because, I, Ms. Butler, am the asshole teacher who keeps every bulletin and checked your bullshit)



Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weekend Fun Adventures....

Went to a minor league baseball game on Saturday night, it was a blast. I love love love watching baseball live. Hoping to go to another game this week in Little Rock.

Fireworks went off after the game. Also, as we were leaving, there was an impromptu dance party in the square... to the Cupid Shuffle! Love!

Thursday, April 21, 2011 bus? Both.

This is in my town. No joke.

Things of note:
1. wood-burning stove
2. air conditioning unit


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No Posts

Sorry, I have nothing to say right now. Nothing to post about. I suck.

Clarksdale Juke Joint Festival

Pretty fun, brought the puppy.

I hate laundry

I freaking hate laundry. I have had three loads just sitting downstairs for seven WHOLE DAYS. Two things you learn from that;

1. I hate laundry
2. I have a LOT of clothes


We've come a long long way together
Through the hard times and the good
I have have to celebrate you baby
I have to praise you like I should

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Saying Goodbye, Not On Your Terms

Today was a rough day. Sorry to be blogging about negative things, I know you don't want to read from a whiner. But, this was a tough situation that I feel like I need to journal about.

Our direct of the Delta and our placement specialist (both who rock my socks off)  of the Delta came to Clarendon today to see about placement for next year. Well, obviously they both know that I will be leaving for the Rio Grande Valley in a few short months, and certainly not back at Clarendon next year. Unfortunately, the only person I had told in my district about that was my Superintendent.

They consequently mentioned it, thinking I had told, and my Superintendent reacted normally, but my Principal did not. He was surprised, I am assuming mad, and certainly at least annoyed. That meeting ended fine, and in good spirits, but then my Principal came back to campus. In the time frame of about noon until 1 pm he managed to tell at least five teachers, and God knows who else that I was leaving. And, as previously mentioned, I had told NO ONE YET. Ugh.

I am really sad about the situation. He told some important people to me, including the Literacy coach, my favorite fellow English teacher, and the athletic director. Really, I was upset because I wanted to tell my English teachers, the Literacy coach, the librarian, and 2 coaches that have helped me quite a bit throughout my time here. Now, those people found out via other adults...and word of mouth. Ugh #1.

That's the first issue. The second issue I have with the entire situation is ...THE PRINCIPAL SAW ME and DIDN'T APPROACH ME. Why would he not professionally say "congrats" or "I'm disappointed you didn't tell me" or "I'm sorry you'll be leaving us, but I wish I had heard it from you," or many other options? Why did he spread it so quickly, to people that didn't need to know that information TODAY. I don't understand if it was done on purpose, or just careless, or just small town gossip at it's finest. Ugh #2.

My third issue -- the students. The real reason I haven't told many people is because of the same time of situation happening with students. I tell a teacher who is careless and tells some students, and wahhlaa everyone in the school knows I am leaving. It's a frustrating thought to be concerned with because 1. I have a lot to still cover, 2. I love the kids, and don't want them to think I am ditching, 3. there is still 7 weeks of school left! Ugh #3.

New Puppy

I am the new foster mommy of Molly, a mix between a black lab and australian shepard.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Big Weekend

I am very excited for the upcoming weekend! Some of the things planned;

1. Softball double header Friday night
2. Phone-a-thon for Delta Development Saturday
3. Possibly seeing Tom's kiddos at Saturday school
4. Going out with my awesome boss on Saturday night for a rager
5. Driving 2.5 hours home BEFORE 10:30 AM so that I can watch a teacher's husband do his "guest preaching" at a church in Clarendon. If he does well, he will be "called to the Church" and be their new minister/pastor/leader (I don't know.... it's not Catholic)
6. My kids are all taking the ACT on Saturday!! WOOT


Man I just had the worst feelings of homesickness. As I wrap up my second year I know I have grown considerably as a professional and personally. But sometimes, I would mind the regression to college, high school, any time. I also had such a strong network of support, love, understanding, and shared values in those settings. Sometimes I have these moments, like today and yesterday, where I realize I still don't necessarily feel that I have that web around me now, two years after moving to the Delta.

It's not really the "delta" per say. I have grown to appreciate my environment, my school, my outlets. But there's something missing, and that's been true for the entire experience in Arkansas. We played a game a few weeks ago where we named characteristics of our zodiac sign (don't even question) and one of mine was escapist. I found it surprisingly easy to say yes, I am an escapist. Now, after thinking about this term for awhile I don't wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes I attribute this perceived "escapism" as really me just trying to find something or somewhere comfortable. For instance, in college if I wasn't getting stuff done, I drove to Lake Calhoun and sat at Whole Foods or some other coffee shop that was my flavor of the month. Here, in the Delta, it's a similar reaction. I have a bad week... I go to the place I am comfortable - usually a friend's house in Mississippi.

I feel like I get some flack for that amongst a few people. But, in the end, if that's what stabilizes my weeks or recharges me for the next challenge, I don't really mind getting flack or feeling judgement. Now, my next step, with confidence must be to not judge others for how they "escape." Whether that's through local fun or traveling, through isolation or socializing, complaining or reflecting, etc. - I have to recognize that these are all different types of coping methods.

Writing this out has made me less panicked and homesick. Sometimes I just need to organize my thoughts. I have people all around me that are stellar. I need to focus on those qualities and embrace that part of my interactions, and then I won't be homesick because I will be too busy celebrating successes.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Literature," Part II

Okay, now I remember where I was going with that. I was actually talking to my Praxis assessor today about the connotation of words and why that is an important concept for students to understand. Today, for my "exemplar" lesson that determines my if I get my license, I chose to teach about the "connotative power of words." I started the lesson with what could have turned into an awkward or controversial topic, placing three words on the board, and with the goal of eliciting some type of reaction.

The three words, to be placed under either positive, negative, or neutral -- black, African American, and Negro.

The reaction was great. We ended up having a discussion about how students decided to place these words and where those feelings come from. Even if they didn't realize what they were doing, the students responded to harassment they have faced in the past, prejudice or condescending use of one of these terms, and the culture surrounding each word. I had a student say that in A Raisin in the Sun, where the word Negro and the "n-word" are used continuously, she was able to determine the time frame of the book, what type of characters were in the play (without it being explicitly said), and where the said characters' lived (or at least in general). All of these things were true for me as well, without having seen the play or movie. So, I proded - Why were you able to do this? She explained that the use of negro and nig**** would only be acceptable if all the characters were black (which they were), they were in a poor community that didn't act properly, and did not have clear goals with steps to get there.

Whoooa... she just summarized the play and the themes that are present in the book - having only read an excerpt I provided the class. What an amazing recognition, right? A Raisin in the Sun deals with these issues completely. Walter wants to provide for his family, but doesn't educate himself and loses the money he is entrusted. Mama buys the "American dream" but lacks the planning skills to know how hard the family will have to work to maintain this lifestyle. Beneatha wants to return to her "roots" to truly experience life yet neglects to maintain an open mind to the different relationships and their value to her life. The struggle of African Americans to rise above their obstacles of poverty, lack of education, lack of stable jobs. All of this wrapped up by a student through the use of one word.

This is the "connotative power of words," a forever frustrating standard from the Arkansas Department of Education. This student, however, has conquered that one.

Anyway... this anecdote was NOT the point of the post (so sorry for the length!). My Praxis assessor recognized the success of this students and started a conversation with me about connotation and the value of literary context. We discussed how schools are trying to rewrite classics like Huckleberry Finn. What a stupid move by educators and whoever else is involved. We must educate our students on their history. We must give them context to words that are thrown around. We must give them an opportunity to learn from history's mistakes. We must allow author's intention to shine through. To take the n-word out of Huck Finn would take away from what Twain was doing. It was intentional. Obviously.

But beyond what Twain's intention was, isn't that what we want our children to see? Words change with time. Words elicit a response. Words are powerful. YOUR WORDS ARE POWERFUL. These are the true lessons we must know when we walk out into the real world. You can have an impact. You can cause people to react. Do it purposefully.

P.S. This is almost verbatim how our rant went during my post-assessment interview. Hopefully that is a good sign that she enjoyed my lesson!


I picked up on this habit from my mother. She loves trashy romance novels, can't deny it, Mom. I have a tendency to read dumb books. That's part of the reason why I resigned myself to read the AP book list that is released every year. I've been doing well on that, but not without sneaking in a few stupid books. Enter: my librarian. She only feeds this desire. She fills the library with vampire, teen angst, and drama high like books throughout the library. Not that I am complaining. It's an interesting concept... I mean our kids read quite a bit, especially for their reading levels.

During parent teacher conferences, a few weeks ago, I looked up all the books I have taken tests on. Half are AP books and half are trash (I allow myself one trash for each "legit" book I read). The reading levels are atrocious on one half, I'll let you venture a guess on which. But, alas, I read. My coupled goal was to read at least two books a month, after four years of college and only about four books read (maybe three).

I'm not sure how I feel about it. Sometimes the books are graphically sexual or just seem inappropriate for a 7th grade students (our school is 7-12), but at the same time... they participate in those activities in most cases. I haven't quite synthesized my point to this post, but there is something that is irking me about that situation. I can say, however, that I was incredibly disappointed that we didn't have Pride and Prejudice or Grapes of Wrath in the library. That, seems like we're not encouraging old school (my term to avoid clashing with students regarding the term "classic literature") reading. That is MOST CERTAINLY a mistake.

My most recent conquest, surely to be considered a classic in the near future;

John Denver - Country Roads (with lyrics)

Pretty obsessed right now.

Weekend Adventures

Had some great "Arkansas" moments this weekend. Went riding around for a couple of hours (DELTA) and found some riiiiiidiculous things..... a la goat farm, HUGE brush fires, train riding and the crazy people that accompany these types of things.

Photo evidence:

Praxis III Exam

Today was the final chapter to getting my 5 year teaching license. In Arkansas you must be observed by a state certified ADE employee. They interview you for 90 minutes before, 90 minutes after, and sit through the class period. It was fine, I guess.

I mean, I hope I passed. But, at the same time I'm not sure I really care. I know I am not going to be teaching next year. I know that in Texas, this license will not transfer, even though I've had to take five exams now. If I don't pass I think I will just be shamed, not necessarily heart broken. But, this has been an attribute of my general attitude these past two weeks, and something that I truly need to conquer immediately.

"Senioritis" is also apparently applicable to jobs. I don't want to do that though. Not really for my personal pride, but more because I know it happens to these kids pretty much every year. I've already heard of 10 teachers leaving for next year. Sometimes on the down low, sometimes pretty obviously. They have majorly checked out. Taking multiple days off, not turning in paperwork, not teaching material throughout their day, lacking an interest in the student work or their lesson plans -- all of these things happen at school. I should not participate.

Find me please, motivation. I am in need of a kick in the butt.